How to Dispose of Old License Plates

A license plate has more purposes than just allowing the registered owner of a car to be identified. Additionally, it demonstrates that the vehicle is legitimately insured and registered in its state.

Have you recently bought a new vehicle? Or have you recently moved to a new state? Or maybe you decided to get rid of your original license plate and customize your current one. You might need to get rid of old license plates for numerous reasons.

How Can I Safely Dispose of My Old License Plates?

License Plate Disposal

While obtaining a new license plate number is easy, the next big question is how to dispose of old license plates properly. This blog post will explore how to dispose of your license plate numbers and recycle them safely. Keep reading to learn more.

Reuse/Repurpose Your Old License Plates

License plates are made of aluminum, which means they are made of metal, and they can be reprocessed and reused repeatedly. Most states do not require old license plates to be turned back in, so here are ways you can possibly reuse your old license plates and make them useful again.

Licensed plates are ideal for decorating basements, man caves, garages, work sheds, boys’ rooms, gyms, and many other spaces. They can bring flair to any area. 

To make a colorful and unique focal point for any space in your home or business area, arrange them in a row and use them as a room’s border or to cover an entire wall. Old license plates can also be used to make a variety of other arts and crafts like:

Toilet Paper Holder

Using a couple of screws, an old crate, and an old license plate, you can creatively make a small cabinet to store and place your toilet paper.

Tree Accents

This is an ideal upcycling option if you are not particularly skilled with metal work, or maybe you just like the natural rustic appearance that only excellent rust can offer. In either case, this is an easy way to beautify while preserving the environment. 

Vases & Plant Pots

You can create a metallic vase or plant pots that will look good on a bookshelf, kitchen table, front porch, or in the backyard of your home. 

Dust Pan

You can turn an old plate into a useful, unique dustpan with just a few simple supplies. In addition to keeping your floors clean, it will also look great when hanging in your kitchen space or utility room. You can use an outdated Teflon pan or the handle. You can also get creative by painting or embellishing the handle to make it more unique.


You can’t go wrong with using your old license plates as clipboards. Where your preferences are vintage, hipster, or kitsch, you can remodel them to be used in your home offices to keep receipts, to-do lists, or business cards.

Vintage Plate Purse

Your old license plates can not only be used as decorations; they can also be wearable art like a vintage plate purse. You just need to know how to combine the colors using repurposed materials to provide you with a unique, durable, repurposed, spunky and stylish purse.

You don’t have to stress about it; just use your imagination! And if you are skilled in metalworking, you can smelt and fuse your used plates to create something wholly original and unique.

Licensed Plate Maps of the United States

The old license plates can be used to make an awesome wall map of the USA, although you will need over 50 pieces of old licenses to make this work and one from each state to start.

This can be a little bit tough to get, except if you have an old license plate number for each state in the US, and you can make lots of money from selling this US licensed plate map, like the artist Aaron Foster, who sells these maps for $2,000-$3,000 per piece.

Sell Old License Plates to Item Collectors

Suppose you are lucky enough to have extremely antique license plates that are valuable vintage collectibles. In that case, you might be able to sell license plates to a collector for a decent amount of money. If you have any that are uncommon, historic, or commemorative, you might be able to make money from selling them to an item collector store.

But be cautious; a plate that appears to have great economic value can be a dud, whilst a plate that appears to be a flop might be worth more than the vehicle you have parked in your driveway! To be certain, have an accredited antiquities dealer or curator inspect your vintage license plates. Your old plates’ actual intended worth might be revealed by them. 

License plates are not the only old items you can turn to cash, check How to Dispose of Electronics to find out where you can sell your old electronics without hassle.

Recycle Licensed Old Plates

Selling your old license plate or turning it into art decor will be a better option. Also, recycling your old license plate is a faster way of disposing of it safely. Here are a few ways to recycle your old license plates.

Visit Your Local DMV to Recycle Your Old License Plate

If your state does not require you to return your old license plate, you are permitted to drop it off at your local DMV where it will be recycled. You can also choose to mail it to your local DMV to make things a lot easier instead of driving to drop it off yourself.

Dispose of the License Plate in Your Home Recycling Bin

If your home has a recycling bin, you could also be able to recycle your old license plate in it. Always verify this with your city’s recycling provider before doing this. It’s crucial to know that placing aluminum in your curbside trash bins in certain regions will not be appropriate. Several states have special recycling requirements for some types of plates, such as veterans’ plates or for individuals with disabilities.

Drop Them At Your Local Aluminum Recycling Center

One of the most recyclable metals is aluminum! Because recycling aluminum lessens the need to produce metal from raw resources, it saves a tremendous amount of energy. You can drop it off at an aluminum recycling center near you, whether it is a center mainly for aluminum or mixed metal bins.

How Do You Prepare Your Old License for Recycling?

Remove the month and your tags if you choose to recycle your old license plate. Before recycling, cut the license into tiny pieces. They could be used unlawfully by someone to tag their vehicle if they get into the wrong hands. Doing this will prevent the fraudulent use of your old license plates.

However, many recycling centers require these steps before your license plates can be submitted to prevent them from being fraudulently used and also protect your identity as the owner.

Return Your License Plates to the DMV

Returning your old license plate to your local department of motor vehicles seems like too much trouble, but it is also an option. Just as previously mentioned, you can return it to the DMV to help you safely destroy it or recycle it, depending on what you choose to go with. 

Some states require you to deliver the license plates in person, while some don’t require you to come in at all; you can easily get them delivered to the DMV center via mail. Additionally, some DMV offices will also require you to pay a small late fee to complete the process. See the safety tips to successfully destroy your old license plate below.

Safety Tips for License Plate 

Here are a few safety tips to successfully destroy your license plate:

Destroy The Stickers

To prevent theft, the information on the license plates must first be erased. If someone steals a license plate and puts it on their automobile, the authorities will get in touch with you if the thief uses that vehicle to conduct a crime. A permanent marker is the most effective tool for altering your plates. Alternatively, you can scuff the decals using a knife or screwdriver. The stickers are difficult to remove, but if you succeed, you can guarantee that the plates won’t be used again.

Change The Shape 

Modern license plates are bendable. They can be cut or bent into several forms. To your advantage, cut them into pieces using tin snips. However, the older plates may require a hammer or pliers to successfully alter the shape.


Any time you move, buy a new car or decide to acquire customized license plates, you will probably find yourself with old automobile license plates on your hands.

It’s simple to throw away used plates or drop them in a box but think about upcycling, recycling, or selling them instead. Overall, be sure to pay close attention to your municipality’s rules because they will determine your possibilities for getting rid of outdated license plates. Always abide by local regulations and secure your personal information while disposing of it by taking the necessary precautions.

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